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Is Music—a major retrospective of an American original—gathers the best poems from John Taggart’s fourteen volumes, ranging from early objectivist experiments and jazz-influenced improvisational pieces to longer breathtaking compositions regarded as underground masterpieces. There is a prayerful quality to Taggart’s poetry, rooted in music—from medieval Christian tradition Is Music—a major retrospective of an American original—gathers the best poems from John Taggart’s fourteen volumes, ranging from early objectivist experiments and jazz-influenced improvisational pieces to longer breathtaking compositions regarded as underground masterpieces. There is a prayerful quality to Taggart’s poetry, rooted in music—from medieval Christian traditions and soul to American punk rock. He is also heavily influenced by the visual arts, most notably in his classic “Slow Song for Mark Rothko,” in which he did with words what Rothko did with paint and dye. "A fearsome intelligence wedded to a kind of craftsmanship that happens once or twice a generation."—Stop Press “In the lovely sonnet ‘Orange Berries Dark Green Leaves,’ Taggart seems to look at nature himself, rather than through another artist’s eyes: ‘Darkened not completely dark let us walk in the darkened field/trees in the field outlined against that which is less dark.’ Is Music contains many such pieces, a wealth of sublime and quiet poems; they are unlike anything being written today, and like good music they stay in the mind.”—The Antioch Review "John Taggart has long been a master of accumulating complexly layered patterns of sound and sense."—Robert Creeley “John Taggart’s poetry is not like music, it is music.”—George Oppen "The long overdue selection of John Taggart’s work, Is Music, reminds us that a good deal of his work, in cutting new songs from old, is transcription. ‘Marvin Gaye Suite’ opens with the opening of the soul singer’s album, What’s Going On: ‘17 seconds of party formulaics by professional football players / intro of 17 seconds of hey man what’s happening and right on.’ Like Gaye’s voice throughout the album, the voice in Taggart’s poem—and this is true throughout his work – is multitracked into a call and response with itself and with the world.”—Sink To breathe and stretch one’s arms again to breathe through the mouth to breathe to breathe through the mouth to utter in the most quiet way not to whisper not to whisper to breathe through the mouth in the most quiet way to breathe to sing to breathe to sing to breathe to sing the most quiet way. To sing to light the most quiet light in darkness radiantia radiantia singing light in darkness. To sing as the host sings in his house.   John Taggart is the author of fourteen books of poetry and two books of criticism. He was, for many years, a professor of English and director of the Interdisciplinary Arts Program at Shippensburg University. He lives near Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.


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Is Music—a major retrospective of an American original—gathers the best poems from John Taggart’s fourteen volumes, ranging from early objectivist experiments and jazz-influenced improvisational pieces to longer breathtaking compositions regarded as underground masterpieces. There is a prayerful quality to Taggart’s poetry, rooted in music—from medieval Christian tradition Is Music—a major retrospective of an American original—gathers the best poems from John Taggart’s fourteen volumes, ranging from early objectivist experiments and jazz-influenced improvisational pieces to longer breathtaking compositions regarded as underground masterpieces. There is a prayerful quality to Taggart’s poetry, rooted in music—from medieval Christian traditions and soul to American punk rock. He is also heavily influenced by the visual arts, most notably in his classic “Slow Song for Mark Rothko,” in which he did with words what Rothko did with paint and dye. "A fearsome intelligence wedded to a kind of craftsmanship that happens once or twice a generation."—Stop Press “In the lovely sonnet ‘Orange Berries Dark Green Leaves,’ Taggart seems to look at nature himself, rather than through another artist’s eyes: ‘Darkened not completely dark let us walk in the darkened field/trees in the field outlined against that which is less dark.’ Is Music contains many such pieces, a wealth of sublime and quiet poems; they are unlike anything being written today, and like good music they stay in the mind.”—The Antioch Review "John Taggart has long been a master of accumulating complexly layered patterns of sound and sense."—Robert Creeley “John Taggart’s poetry is not like music, it is music.”—George Oppen "The long overdue selection of John Taggart’s work, Is Music, reminds us that a good deal of his work, in cutting new songs from old, is transcription. ‘Marvin Gaye Suite’ opens with the opening of the soul singer’s album, What’s Going On: ‘17 seconds of party formulaics by professional football players / intro of 17 seconds of hey man what’s happening and right on.’ Like Gaye’s voice throughout the album, the voice in Taggart’s poem—and this is true throughout his work – is multitracked into a call and response with itself and with the world.”—Sink To breathe and stretch one’s arms again to breathe through the mouth to breathe to breathe through the mouth to utter in the most quiet way not to whisper not to whisper to breathe through the mouth in the most quiet way to breathe to sing to breathe to sing to breathe to sing the most quiet way. To sing to light the most quiet light in darkness radiantia radiantia singing light in darkness. To sing as the host sings in his house.   John Taggart is the author of fourteen books of poetry and two books of criticism. He was, for many years, a professor of English and director of the Interdisciplinary Arts Program at Shippensburg University. He lives near Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.

30 review for Is Music: New and Selected Poems

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Good, but would have liked to have seen at least something from Dodeka and/or The Pyramid is a Pure Crystal included; (notwithstanding Taggart's claim that to select from these works would "misrepresent them"). On the plus side, the book does bring back into print three of the four poems originally included in Peace on Earth. Good, but would have liked to have seen at least something from Dodeka and/or The Pyramid is a Pure Crystal included; (notwithstanding Taggart's claim that to select from these works would "misrepresent them"). On the plus side, the book does bring back into print three of the four poems originally included in Peace on Earth.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    I adore John Taggart. A major retrospective is bound to be slightly uneven though.... and some of my favorites were left out of this, so that's why the 4 stars. When he's good, he's certainly 5 stars good. I adore John Taggart. A major retrospective is bound to be slightly uneven though.... and some of my favorites were left out of this, so that's why the 4 stars. When he's good, he's certainly 5 stars good.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Terrific gathering of most of the work that's not a long poem (there are many). The sample reveals both a devotional attention inside the music and protest as well as an acutely green sensibility. John Taggart is a living master we should all abide Terrific gathering of most of the work that's not a long poem (there are many). The sample reveals both a devotional attention inside the music and protest as well as an acutely green sensibility. John Taggart is a living master we should all abide

  4. 5 out of 5

    James Cook

    Taggart is great, though I can only read some of the more repetitive poems when I'm in the right mood. I wish this volume contained material from Dodeka. Interestingly, the first poem in this volume, "The Drum Thing", I had only read in The Gist of Origin anthology and find that here it is heavily revised, with many lines cut out. I like both versions but actually prefer the Origin version a little bit, because of its strangeness and its awkward wording and syntax. Taggart is actually best liste Taggart is great, though I can only read some of the more repetitive poems when I'm in the right mood. I wish this volume contained material from Dodeka. Interestingly, the first poem in this volume, "The Drum Thing", I had only read in The Gist of Origin anthology and find that here it is heavily revised, with many lines cut out. I like both versions but actually prefer the Origin version a little bit, because of its strangeness and its awkward wording and syntax. Taggart is actually best listened to: the repetition in the poems comes off so much better when spoken aloud by the poet, the rhythms weaving themselves in air, making music of time. Or I recommend that you read these poems aloud, slowly, to yourself when reading them. Also, if you dig this, check out the poems of Theodore Enslin, particularly the late ones.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Dubin

  8. 5 out of 5

    P. J.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jack

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ken Taylor

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jenifer Park

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Holden

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tales and Tomes

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brian Teare

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ted Landrum

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Carbery

  19. 5 out of 5

    uena

  20. 4 out of 5

    Barry

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  22. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aurelio Giardini

  24. 4 out of 5

    Speakwright

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Cooke

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  27. 4 out of 5

    G Mapes

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ed Skoog

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  30. 4 out of 5

    Caryl

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